Top Women in Grocery Event: Panelists Provide Tips From the Top

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Top Women in Grocery Event: Panelists Provide Tips From the Top

By Bridget Goldschmidt, EnsembleIQ - 11/11/2016

One of the highlights of Progressive Grocer’s 10th annual Top Women in Grocery celebration was the Tips From the Top Panel Discussion, held during the Leadership Development portion of the day-long event. Moderated by PG Chief Content Editor Meg Major, the lively, informative panel consisted of best-selling author and inspirational speaker Robin Gerber (also the event’s keynote speaker); SpartanNash EVP and Chief Legal Officer Kathleen Mahoney; Albertsons Cos. EVP, Retail Operations Susan Morris; and KB Holding Inc. Chairman and CEO Judith A. Spires (who was later presented with the Trailblazer award for her pioneering efforts as a female retail executive).

The discussion got off to a substantive start with an incisive question from Major about lessons learned from past mistakes. Following topics included what women who feel “stuck in the pipeline” should do to advance themselves, workplace changes such as flexible work hours and more collaborative corporate cultures, and why some female bosses were perceived as unhelpful to women advancing through the ranks, which evoked particularly strong feelings from the panelists, Gerber was succinct in her counsel for women aspiring to leadership roles: “Don't be the awful female boss.”

When asked to give career advice to women, the panelists responded with gusto. “You’ve got to come to work with a great attitude,” urged Spires. “Energy and enthusiasm go a long way,” while skills can always be learned. Her two recommendations: “Say yes to every opportunity” and “Always deliver results.”

Mahoney, meanwhile, told attendees not to fear failure. “Own your mistakes, but don’t let them define you,” she advised. “Move on.”

During the brief question-and-answer session that followed the panel discussion, when someone asked how to make companies more diverse, Morris responded: "At Albertsons we have a group of strong women who are working hard and engaging every executive to promote diversity. It's about finding people that want to drive change within your organization, then getting the resources they need and forming a group to promote that change."

Another audience member asked how women could surmount the remaining barriers between them and professional success. One answer, the panelists agreed, was events like Top Women in Grocery. “Don’t feel you don’t know anyone here,” said Spires. “We know everybody here.”